This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.Recently I dropped into a salesperson’s sales force automation to look at a couple of opportunities. What I found was disappointing.The first deal had five stakeholders attached to it. I was inspired. But other than names and contact information, there was nothing useful there. There was a record of the dates and times of meetings and phone conversation, but not a word regarding the content of those calls. The salesperson lost the opportunity the last time they competed for it, and what I found in the sales force automation was less than helpful in understanding what happened or why.The second opportunity was worse. There was only one stakeholder on the deal, and that one was from outside of the company. There wasn’t single note, but there was an attachment. That attachment was the pricing they emailed the prospective client. Uninspiring.You hate your sales force automation because you believe it only serves management and their forecasts, and you’re mostly right. You hate it because you think it is unnecessary data entry work, and you couldn’t be more wrong.How To Use Your Sales Force AutomationIn that first deal, I wanted to know what each of the stakeholders wanted or needed, what were their individual preferences, who was engaged, who had influence, who had authority, at what stage of the buying cycle they were in, what were their challenges, what would motivate them to buy, what would keep them from supporting us, the questions they asked in meetings, and any email correspondence (which could have easily been forwarded to the software).I would want to know who won the deal last time, why they won, and any communication that occurred with the company between the date the salesperson lost the deal and the day I popped in to look at it.Your sales force automation is a record of your relationships. As you sell, you gather tons of information, information that may later prove useful, information that may later help you appear as if you have command of the details, information that gives you context for future discussions.Don’t be lazy. Don’t be short-sighted. Use your sales force automation to help you sell better. You’ll soon discover that management buys it for the forecasts, you use it to help you manage your relationships and win deals.QuestionsDo you use your system like it belongs to you or your management?Who made the decision to use it that way? Is it serving you?What records would keep? Where should you keep them?No matter how good you believe your memory is, it’s not better than a computer.
Sergio Ramos and Andres Iniesta will be crucial for Spain at the World CupSpain has a surplus of talented players at nearly every position, so picking the right team will likely be Spain coach Vicente del Bosque’s biggest dilemma.The defending champions have been afforded little time to experiment with tough matches against the Netherlands and Chile before facing Australia in Group B.The team’s core is aging but still capable, while an incoming crop of young talent will offer Del Bosque further options.Here are five Spain players to watch:DIEGO COSTADiego Costa brings a new dynamic to the world champions, if coach Vicente del Bosque uses the Atletico Madrid striker correctly.The Brazilian-born Costa has chosen to play for his adopted homeland of Spain, which has not possessed a player with his qualities since it began its trophy-winning ways at the 2008 European Championship.Costa’s gritty, physical play lends better to open space and long balls compared to Spain’s short passing, possession style, with the quick-tempered striker terrorizing defenses when given space to run at them.But the tight confines of Spain’s play could limit Costa’s impact unless Del Bosque embraces his qualities and character, which will be under duress from the home fans for choosing to play for Spain.IKER CASILLASIker Casillas has been relegated to backup goalkeeper at Real Madrid, but the Spain captain has been stellar in that role by leading his club to the Copa del Rey final and deep into the knockout stages of the Champions League.No player has made as many appearances for Spain as Casillas, who will be at his eighth major championship, including four World Cups.XAVI HERNANDEZAt 34, this could surely be Xavi Hernandez’s last World Cup.Spain’s key midfield navigator has spoken about his desire to lead the team in South America, and it is hard to imagine Xavi failing to be one of the difference-makers in the tournament, especially when motivated.Much of Spain’s play is directed off his boot, and much of Spain’s success over the past six years can be attributed to his ability to set the tempo of a match.ANDRES INIESTASpain’s wealth of midfield talent is a key difference-maker for the world champions, and Andres Iniesta is a key cog in that engine.Iniesta, who scored in the 116th minute to give Spain its first World Cup title four years ago, has had a subdued season at Barcelona with occasional flashes of brilliance. But he seems to turn it on for Spain, when he normally proves to be a key player in unlocking defenses that tend to stack the area and stay behind the ball.SERGIO RAMOSOnly 27, Sergio Ramos has already made 115 appearances for the national team. And with Carles Puyol gone, the Real Madrid center back is the natural successor to lead the team from the back.While teammate Gerard Pique may be more attuned to a “sweeper” role of carrying the ball forward, Ramos has been stellar in the center of defense where his speed, size and ability to read the game means he rarely gets beat.While much of the talk of Spain’s success surrounds the midfield, the defense has not conceded a goal in the knockout stages of the past two European Championships and the World Cup – a span of 10 games.